A Lady's Ruminations

"Jane was firm where she felt herself to be right." -Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Friday, September 09, 2005

The Great Raid

Last night my sister and I saw the movie The Great Raid.

If you haven't see it yet, I highly recommend it.

Here is a brief synopsis of the film:
Set in the Philippines in 1945, "The Great Raid" tells the true story of the 6th Ranger Battalion, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Henry Mucci (Benjamin Bratt) who undertake a daring rescue mission against all odds. Traveling thirty miles behind enemy lines, the 6th Ranger Battalion aims to liberate over 500 American prisoners-of-war from the notorious Cabanatuan Japanese POW camp in the most audacious rescue ever.
Also starring in the WWII film are the gorgeous Joseph Fiennes, James Franco, Connie Nielsen, and Mark Consuelos.

I had heard excellent things about The Great Raid, particularly from Sean Hannity's radio show. It certainly lived up to my expectations, and even surpassed them.

The film opens beautifully with real World War II footage. It is amazing to see these men who fought so valiantly and are now in their 70s and 80s. James Franco gives an eloquent narration at the beginning and ending of the film, as well as an excellent job as Captain Prince. Prince is the college boy turned military officer. Franco looks like a World War II soldier. Some people really fit into their roles, into other times. The men in this film, for the most part, do just that.

Here is what film critic Roger Ebert had to say:
Here is a war movie that understands how wars are actually fought. After "Stealth" and its high-tech look-alikes, which make warfare look like a video game, "The Great Raid" shows the hard work and courage of troops whose reality is danger and death.
"The Great Raid" has the look and feel of a good war movie you might see on cable late one night, perhaps starring Robert Mitchum, Robert Ryan or Lee Marvin. It has been made with the confidence that the story itself is the point, not the flashy graphics. The raid is outlined for the troops (and for the audience), so that, knowing what the rescuers want to do, we understand how they're trying to do it. Like soldiers on a march, it puts one step in front of another, instead of flying apart into a blizzard of quick cuts and special effects. Like the jazzier but equally realistic "Black Hawk Down," it shows a situation that has moved beyond policy and strategy and amounts to soldiers in the field, hoping to hell they get home alive.

"You are the best-trained troops in the U. S. Army," their commander (Benjamin Bratt) tells the 6th Army Ranger Battalion. Perhaps that is close to the truth, but they have never been tested under fire; their first assignment involves penetrating Japanese-controlled territory, creeping in daylight across an open field toward the POW camp, hiding in a ditch until night, and then depending on surprise to rescue the prisoners, most of them starving, many of them sick, all of them survivors of the Bataan Death March.
War movies typically feature a lot of blood, mangled bodies, and swearing. The Great Raid is not quite as graphic, but the emotions one feels upon watching are the stronger for it. The viewer gets to know the men, both those on the Raid and those waiting to be rescued from a hellish Japanese camp.

The entire movie is very well done, from the acting to the musical score to the cinematography. I never felt that the film was lagging or boring. The story takes place over five days, with a lot of action packed into each of the days.

I highly recommend The Great Raid. It is a beautifully told story that deserves to be shared and honors the men who risked all for the world.